In 2006, the Heat acquired veteran shooting guard Derek Anderson at the deadline to add depth to a roster led by Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O’Neal. The Heat won the NBA title that year, but since then, no team that dealt for anyone within a week of the trade deadline has gone on to win the championship. Still, there have been a few players acquired at the deadline since then who’ve made their presence felt on teams that have advanced in the playoffs the same year. Let’s take a look at recent deals that have had immediate playoff impact here:
- The same year the Heat picked up Anderson, Cavs GM Danny Ferry traded Mike Wilks and cash to Seattle for Ronald Murray, better known as Flip. He helped them into the playoffs for the first time in the LeBron James era, and played more postseason minutes than anyone on the team except LeBron and Eric Snow, averaging 8.1 PPG, 3.2 RPG and 1.6 APG as the Cavs beat the Wizards in the first round and took top-seeded Detroit to seven games in the conference semis.
- Ferry and the Cavs were active again in 2008, this time in a major way. They picked up Ben Wallace, Joe Smith, Wally Szczerbiak and Delonte West in a three-team deal with the Bulls and Sonics. Wallace, Szczerbiak and West made up three-fifths of the team’s starting lineup. Both West and Szczerbiak averaged 10.8 PPG in the playoffs, tying them for third on the team behind LeBron and Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Wallace was the team’s third leading postseason rebounder at 6.5 a night, and averaged more than one block every night playing just 23.4 MPG. Smith averaged 6.6 PPG and 4.6 RPG and teamed with Anderson Varejao to give the Cavs plenty of size off the bench as they again knocked off the Wizards and went seven games with the eventual champion Celtics.
- No list of meaningful moves would be complete without an entry from R.C. Buford and the Spurs. In 2008, San Antonio dealt Francisco Elson, Brent Barry and a 2009 first-round pick to the Sonics for Kurt Thomas. The veteran big man started eight of the 17 playoff games the Spurs played that season, averaging 15.8 MPG, 4.1 PPG and 4.9 RPG as San Antonio survived a seven-game challenge from the upstart Hornets to get to the Western Conference Finals.
- When Jameer Nelson dislocated his shoulder and suffered a torn labrum in early February against Dallas in 2009, playing in June seemed out of the question for the Magic. GM Otis Smith traded Brian Cook to Houston at the deadline for Rafer Alston and suddenly Orlando had the point guard who would help them get to the Finals. Alston started every game of the playoffs, even after Nelson returned in the Finals, and averaged 12.2 PPG and 4.1 APG. Curiously, he was shipped to New Jersey just days after the Finals ended, and the Magic haven’t been back since.
- The loophole Ferry and the Cavs used in 2010 to improve their team at the deadline without ultimately giving up much has been closed in the new collective bargaining agreement. Cleveland picked up Antawn Jamison from the Wizards in return for Zydrunas Ilgauskas, the rights to Emir Preldzic and a 2010 first-rounder. Ilgauskas was bought out by the Wizards and returned to the Cavs a month later, which he wouldn’t be able to do under the new rules. Jamison became Cleveland’s starting power forward and was the team’s second-leading postseason scorer in 2010, averaging 15.3 PPG and 7.4 RPG. The advantage the Cavs gained with Ilgauskas was minimal, however, as he put up just 1.7 PPG and 1.6 RPG in 9.9 MPG off the bench.
- We’ll include this one because it came tantalizingly close to qualifying as a deadline pickup for a championship team. Instead, the Celtics and GM Danny Ainge fell in Game 7 of the Finals to the Lakers after acquiring Nate Robinson and Marcus Landry from the Knicks in February 2010 for Eddie House, J.R. Giddens, Bill Walker and a second-round pick. Landry only played one regular season game for the Celtics, and while Robinson had his moments in the playoffs, he averaged just 4.2 PPG in 7.5 minutes a night.
- No one thought Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace would have an impact on the playoffs last year when picked up Shane Battier and Ishmael Smith from the Rockets in exchange for his unfortunate former No. 2 pick Hasheem Thabeet, DeMarre Carroll and a future first-rounder. That was before Battier played more postseason minutes than any other Memphis reserve, averaging 5.5 PPG and 4.0 RPG for an eighth-seeded Grizzlies that fell just one game shy of the Western Conference Finals. We’ll see if Battier can provide a similar boost for the Heat this year.
- In a trade that looks even better now, Thunder GM Sam Presti gave his team an inside presence for the stretch run last year when they got Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson from the Celtics in exchange for Jeff Green, Nenad Krstic, a first-round draft pick and cash. Perkins started every postseason game at center and gave Oklahoma City 4.5 PPG and 6.1 RPG, to go along with defense and championship experience. The Thunder advanced in the postseason for the first time since moving from Seattle.